Syrian govt gains control over central part of country

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The Syrian government retook full control of central Syria on Wednesday as rebels and their relatives were evacuated from final pockets of territory still outside the regime's grasp, an AFP correspondent reported.

The rebels have agreed to surrender the northern countryside of Homs province to the government under a deal reached in early May.

More than 27,000 rebels and their families have left the countrysides of Homs and Hama since the evacuation in these areas started last week.

"For the first time since 2011, Damascus, its suburbs, Homs and Hama provinces are for the most part controlled by the government, except for small pockets of Islamic State militants at the edge of the desert to the east near the Iraqi border and in Yarmouk camp south of Damascus as well as some rebel fighters in northern Hama", said Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the Observatory.

The northern rural Homs deal came days after rebels cleared their last remaining strongholds around the capital Damascus.

The rebels that evacuated Rastan and Talbiseh are those refusing to reconcile with the government, while those agreeing to live under the government control remain in the two areas.

The surrender in northern Homs and southern Hama adds to what has been described as one of the largest population shifts in Syria since the conflict began.

The recapture of the Hajar al-Aswad district comes almost a month after government forces launched an offensive targeting a pocket held by ISIS south of Damascus.

The Syrian flag was also raised on the municipal buildings in both cities by the government law enforcement forces.

"We declare from the area that we have triumphed over terrorism and we declare that we have overpowered terrorism from Homs province", the unnamed officer told Al-Ikhbariya.

Videos shared on social media showed vehicles carrying the Russian flag accompanying the deployment.

"The fearless armed forces, with support from allies, have completed the clearing of 1,200 sq.km (463 sq. miles) in rural Northern Homs and Southern Hama, and have restored security to 65 villages and towns", said Brig. The deals were mediated by Russian Federation, the main ally of the Syrian government, which has deployed its military police in the evacuated areas.

A total of 34,500 people - armed men and their families - were transferred out of the area as part of the deal, according to the Britain-based observatory.

The convoy of dozens of buses carried 6,800 civilians and armed groups members and their families from northern Homs as the number of people evacuated has exceeded 30,000 so far.

This suggests the southern province, which is protected by a USA -backed de-escalation zone agreement, may be the next battleground in the Syrian conflict.

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